Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grease Be Gone!

If you haven't noticed by now, I love to bake. But the problem with baking comes down to a few basic problems: wear on yourself, sometimes your wallet and your tools. 

One problem that is common (and my fault for not cleaning properly after baking) is grease build up on pans and cookie sheets. No need to scrub your arm off trying to get that greasy film off, or run out and buy a special cleaner that strips it off. This is my technique that works in a pinch.

All you need is oven cleaner.

Take your greasy pan with stubborn stains that regular hot soapy water just won't get out.

Spray oven cleaner all over the pan targeting specific areas of build up. Pop the pan into a COLD oven and shut the door. Let the bubbles do their magic for 15-45 minutes and then wipe clean with water. 

Leave the pan in longer for harder set grease. 

And Viola!

Next to nearly clean. This pan was after one "session" of cleaning. I need to spray the handles and corners a bit better next time.

But hey, it's soooo much better then what it DID look like, plus it was free! Beautiful.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Peaches and Cream Muffins

Last month the peaches in my parent's orchard ripened and I went a little crazy canning peaches, making peach honey and peaches n' cream ice cream. I also made peach muffins, but I forgot to post it until now when I got a sudden craving for another of these sweet muffins. They are really good and just another reminder that summer is quickly fading fast.

The leaves are already falling in my yard, but I can cling to summer a little bit longer with these yummy beauties.

Peaches n’ Cream Muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large egg
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup fresh peaches, peeled and chopped

Cream cheese filling:
3/4 c cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel Topping (Cut together until resembles coarse crumbs)
3 tbl flour
3 tbl brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbl butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin well (I don't care what people say, muffins don't have liners on them, cupcakes do!). Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon.
3. In a separate bowl, mix oil, egg, milk, and vanilla together.
5. Gently fold in the the wet ingredients into flour mix until just combined, do not over mix.  The batter will be thick. Fold in the peaches.
6. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix until creamy and smooth.
7. Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Next, add a small spoonful of cream cheese filling to each muffin cup. Cover the cream cheese filling with the remaining batter. Sprinkle streusel topping just before baking.
8. Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack.

Makes one dozen muffins.

Grab summer off the tree and make up a sweet morning batch of these beautiful muffins. Enjoy!

Pictures coming soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"The MVM" Most Valuable Meal

In our house we eat beef about once a week, not too much but we enjoy it. Mr. Beautiful on the other hand (if he cooked) would live on red meat every day for the rest of his life, and the dinner most requested?


Simple, easy to put together, and everyone has a "secret' that makes it just right. I don't know about secrets, but I am very serious about the ingredients that go into my Meatloaf. When learning to make meatloaf, I tried a lot of different recipes and in the end, I made my own meatloaf recipe which combined about 4 different good but not great recipes!

This dinner it is such a hit that (usually the men) my family, once they heard I made meatloaf, are always asking for the leftovers.

This wins the MVM in my book because it is an old stand by, a crowd pleaser, and makes easy leftovers (sandwiches! no additional cooking!) So enjoy, and I hope it's a family favorite in your home too.

Sarah's Meatloaf

2 slices of bread (any kind)
6 c of lean ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 c of chopped dried onion
1 tsp (each) ground sage, dried/fresh basil, oregano
2 tbl dried/fresh parsley
salt to taste
3/4 c milk

1/2 c ketchup
4 tbl brown sugar
2 tsp mustard
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease a large cookie sheet with raised edges generously. Set aside.
  2. Put bread in a bowl and add enough water to soak, let stand for 5 mins then squeeze well to drain all the water out.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, leaving eggs last. Work together with hands to evenly distribute herbs and onion.
  4. Shape into 8 small loaves or like in my house a "meatloaf man" and place on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 1 1/2 hours, drain off fat. Meanwhile combine ketchup, mustard and sugar for sauce, spread over meat after fat is drained.
  6. Return meatloaf to bake another 10 mins, drain off any remaining fat.
  7. Let stand 10 mins before serving.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Making "Jelly Rolls" with Jelly Rolls

I had never heard of a jelly roll until last year when I was planning on making another pumpkin pie. I looked at the canned pumpkin can and there was this beautiful dessert just taunting me. I decided to try it, and the reward was definitely worth the work. The jelly roll is essentially a sponge-like cake with a creamy filling that makes it low-fat as well as adaptable to any taste.

I kind of have been on a jelly roll kick this weekend, making them to give away. Just making them is so much fun and there are lots of ways to make them your own. This blog is going to have two really delicious, moist, "jelly roll making" jelly roll recipes.

Classic Jelly Roll (This recipe has been in our family recipe cards for years)
5 eggs
1 c sugar
1/4 c water
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
Preserves of your choice, my rule of thumb: if it has seeds in it, you know it's gonna taste good!
Powered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a jelly roll pan and line with wax paper. Then grease the wax paper really well, especially in the corners.

  2. Beat eggs, sugar, water and vanilla.

  3. Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt.

  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 mins or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Meanwhile sift powdered sugar onto a clean kitchen towel (everywhere! and I mean sift!)

  5. Immediately flip baked cake upside down onto sugared towel. Carefully remove wax paper and throw away. Slowly roll up cake into a spiral using the towel as a guide. Do not roll towel into the cake! Still wrapped in a towel, lift and place on a wire rack to cool for an hour.

  6. Slowly unroll cake and spread preserves all over cake, within a 1" margin around the edges (too much filling and it will spill out).

  7. Re-roll the cake into a spiral again and let set for another 1/2 hour.

  8. Sift powdered sugar on top, slice and serve.

Banana Nut Roll (from BHG cookbook, aka, never fails!)
No one turns a slice of this down...unless they are allergic to nuts. Then, how dare you try to hurt someone with a baked good!

5 eggs room temp
1/2 all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
11 oz cream cheese softened
1 c sugar
3 tbl milk
1 c mashed banana
3/4 c finely chopped walnuts
6 bowls (3 small, 2 medium, 1 large), mixer/beaters, spatula, jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with edges

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 15"x10"x1" pan or a jelly roll pan with Pam. Lay down a piece of wax paper and pres to seal to bottom and sides. Spray wax paper really well especially in the corners. Set aside.

  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, together in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. Cream cream cheese and 1/2 c sugar until smooth. Add one egg and 3 tbl of milk until slightly runny.

  4. Spread cream cheese into prepared pan (this will be the filling). Set aside.

  5. Separate 4 eggs.

  6. For cake, begin by beating eggs yolks and vanilla for 5 mins or until think and lemony colored. Gradually add in 1/3 cup sugar, beating on high until sugar is dissolved. Mix in banana and walnuts.

  7. Grab the large bowl, wash beaters really well and add egg whites. Beat egg whites on medium until soft tips form (tips curl). Gradually add 1/2 sugar, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). 

  8. Fold gently, egg yolk/banana mixture into the whites. Sprinkle flour mixture on top and gently fold until combined.

  9. Carefully spoon batter over cream cheese filling in pan. 

  10. Bake 20-23 mins or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Meanwhile, take a clean kitchen towel and sift powdered sugar all over (and I mean all over! and I mean sift!). When cake is done, immediately flip cake upside down onto towel. Remove wax paper and slowly use the towel to roll cake into a spiral. Don't roll the towel into the cake!

  11. Still in a towel, lift roll to a wire rack to cool at least an hour. Plate roll, sift powdered sugar on top or spread a simple glaze (powdered sugar and enough milk to make it runny) and sprinkle with walnuts.  

These two recipes are all you really need to mix and match to make delicious Jelly Rolls.

Make a pumpkin jelly roll with the Classic recipe, but throw in 1/2 can of canned pumpkin and some pumpkin spice. Prepare the cream cheese filling from the Banana Nut Roll and it's a savory and sweet recipe.

Make the Classic recipe and your own preserves or thickened pie filling for a world of options: raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, crab apple, apple, peanut butter and jelly, figs, pumpkin custard, chocolate mousse....
Make the Classic recipe and spread softened ice cream instead of jelly, freeze for 30 mins or until firm and you have a homemade ice cream cake!

You really have so many choices, I'm amazed we don't see more jelly rolls walking around....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fig Bars- Fig Newtons

I have been experimenting a lot with foods I never used before. Earlier this week I used vanilla bean, and then semolina flour, and yesterday I wanted to do something with figs. I have always loved figs. I used to eat them from my neighbor lady's tree all the time when I was little.

They are also great for Halloween because they look like brains when you cut into them! These bars are great too, because they have a purple-y center and you don't see many purple desserts :)

I bought two pounds of figs and decided to try to make a copycat version of fig newtons. Soft buttery cookie with a chewy (and healthy) center.

This recipe couldn't be easier to make, I just pulled some of my old stand by cookie recipes out and decided the best way to keep the chewy and moist center was to turn my fresh figs into a jelly. I hope you enjoy it. I think the jelly recipe was a little too bland and needed more sugar, but I took some over to my family to "test" them, and I came home with an empty plate...so you be the judge.

Fig Bars

2 lbs fresh figs
1 c sugar
1/2 water

1/2 c butter room temp
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 c all purpose flour

  1. Dice figs and soak in water in a saucepan for an hour. Add sugar and cook medium high heat, mashing figs and stirring until a thin jam consistency. Remove from heat and let cool for an hour.  
  2. Cream butter, sugar until smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Remove dough and form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Take half of dough and on a lightly floured surface, roll out into a rectangle shape to fit into a lightly greased (ideally) 13"x 9" pan. I used my 11"x7"x1" pan and the cookie was thicker but still good. Lay into the pan and gently press down, just to smooth.
  5. Top bottom cookie layer with fig filling. Doesn't have to be pretty :)
  6. Roll remaining dough and cover figs.
  7. Bake for 30 mins or until lightly brown.
  8. Cool and cut into squares.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nothing "Vanilla" about these cupcakes

I have been wanting to work with real Vanilla Bean ever since I ate those delicious vanilla bean scones at Starbucks. Reading around, I found out that I am not alone and a lot of blogging ladies and men out there fell for that little scones spell and they set out on their own mission to discover their secrets.

Since my Hostess cupcakes were such a huge success I felt confident and probably safe to say, a little nuts on finding the next perfect cupcake recipe. These cupcakes needed to be perfect. They are Vanilla Bean! Just thinking about it makes my mouth drool over the simplicity and elegance this spice delivers. Also, ever prices those suckers? It's about (on avarage) $10 a bean. Sure they pack a powerful flavor punch, but I wanted to be safe not to waste my precious ingredient.

So the search began, I looked up recipes; found fun hints on how to use the vanilla bean. Comparing ingredients, I found that most recipes were like the classic cupcake (ie. milk, sugar, etc...) But I ended up using this recipe from Simply recipes with the guest author from Vanilla Garlic since he seemed to be having a love affair with Vanilla beans! He has 9 varieties of beans in his house, just imagine what theat smells like :)

I whipped up these cupcakes in a mad effort to reduce workday stress, I think it was 10 pm when I started.

Just smelling the vanilla, and working with my other lover (My KitichenAid Mixer) made the stress melt away. And, more importantly stay away.

The stress was totally banished once I tasted the first cupcake. Oh My Goodness, these are beautiful!

Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean (or one whole bean if you can spare it)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (makes those beautiful vanilla speckles)

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools. Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

2 Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

3 In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

4 Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

5 Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.

Beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.

Makes about a dozen cupcakes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

So the other day I was bumming around online, looking for ideas and relaxing when I came across the website Bakeat350.com. At first I didn't notice anything particularly unique, but then I saw these...

They are so cute! I love how it gives the illusion of a normal Hostess cupcake, but at second glance you see the "sweet" (haha-puns are funny) message carefully scripted out.

I HAD to make these. It was like a calling!

I already had everything in my house and made a batch right away. But...I wasn't satisfied with the recipe for the cupcake. It wasn't as moist and chocolaty as I would have liked so I changed a few things and made this my own. With inspiration from Bakeat350 I'm making these my own way. Check out her blog too! I have some great ideas for cookies from her, but that's for another blog.

Sarah's Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

Make the Cupcakes
  • 2 1/4 c Flour
  • 3/4 c Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1 Tbl Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2 c Sugar
  • 2 c water
  • 3/4 c Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbl White Distilled Vinegar
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre-heat Oven 325F. Line 24 cupcake cups. Set aside.
  2. In a Medium bowl, SIFT (no cutting corners ladies!) flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix in Sugar. Make a well in the middle and add remaining ingredients. Mix well until smooth.
  3. Take out a 1/4c measuring cup and spoon batter into each cup. Bake 15-20mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 5 mins, then finish cooling on wire rack. Meanwhile prepare the filling.
The Filling
  • 4 Tbl Unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 c powered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbl heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Jar of Marshmallow Creme
  1. Whip butter until fluffy.
  2. Alternate 1/3 c sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbl of whipping cream at a time until all ingredients have been added.
  3. Whip in marshmallow creme until creamy. If filling is too stiff, add a tablespoon at a time of whipping cream to thin.
  4. Fill into a PIPING BAG with a medium star tip and set in fridge until cupcakes have cooled.
  5. To Fill: Place tip halfway into cupcake and squeeze until cupcake begins to bulge a little. Be careful not to overfill and make the cupcake crack. Fill the hole to even out the top of the cupcake. Don't worry about the hole, the frosting will cover it up nicely. Continue with the remaining 23 cupcakes.
The Frosting (Simple French genache)
  • 6 oz of Bittersweet Bakers chocolate, chopped
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place chopped chocolate in a METAL bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat whipping cream in a small pan until just boiling, then pour over chocolate in bowl. Let set for 5 mins then stir until smooth.
  3. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Take cupcakes and one by one, dip them upside down into the frosting. Pick up and hold over bowl until drippings stop.
  5. Place on platter and continue with remaining cupcakes. Let rest 30 mins or until frosting has set, or place in fridge for 15 mins.
  • 1 egg white at room temperature
  • a pinch of cream of tarter
  • 1/2 c-1 c confectioners sugar
  1. Beat egg whites until frothy, then mix in cream of tarter.
  2. Gradually add in confectioners sugar until you reach a consistency that is stiff but still smooth.
  3. Fill a piping bag with a 1/16th round tip. Remove cupcakes from fridge and pipe a design (words, squiggles, Hostess cupcakes have 7 "loops") on top of each cupcake. Let the design harden before you cover.
Cupcakes can be refrigerated for 2 days, serve at room temperature. Or Keep frozen for 2 weeks!

I took the cupcakes below to a Blessings Unlimited party, and everyone loved them. The women said they were rich and "oh so cool looking."
My favorite compliment was "I'll take another Blessing, thank you." :)
These were kind of time consuming to make, but Oh so worth it! And I don't mind complicated recipes (I mean you're making four different things here) if the outcome is as beautiful as it tastes.
So be a good Hostess and make your own Hostess cupcakes!
Ok, I'm done with the puns. I promise!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paper Flower Chandelier

In the beginning of my adventures in Blogland, I became hooked on Living with Lindsey. One of the first things I loved about her blog was her "thriftiness" and creativity in not letting things get in her way. She saw this chandelier at Pottery Barn (and who honestly doesn't love PB's style?) and was inspired, but couldn't think of a reasonable excuse for paying the Pottery Barn prices.

Instead, she got her craft on and she made this! Isn't it beautiful?!Lindsey did all the hard work for me, and I couldn't resist wanting to make one. I made my version of the chandelier for my friends little girl.

Click on the link above to follow her tutorial or read ahead for mine that is a little different.

For this project you will need:
  • 18" wire box wreath
  • 12" wire box wreath
  • 2 wire coat hangers
  • floral wire
  • Heavy gauge wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Fishing line
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray paint
  • ribbon (mine was 1/4", 3 rolls)
  • Glue gun and sticks
  • Elmer's glue
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook paper (mine was 12x12, 1 sheet for each color)
  • Paper punch (medium)
  • Small buttons
  • I found all my supplies at Micheal's Crafts
My friends daughter is very girly, and she wanted something that would fit with the decor of the nursery she already has (pink and green). Knowing that, I picked a nice "girly" paper punch she could still grow into and lots of scrapbook paper. *I found a whole book for $9.99 before my 40% off coupon so my friend could pick the perfect pattern and colors for the chandelier. I get to used the rest of the paper for another project :)

1. Start by stamping out your shape.

I wanted contrasting colors and texture with these flowers so I had one flower stamped out with pink polka dots over green stripes, and the other flower of small pink stripes and green polka dots. The patterns are subtle, but work great together.
2. I used the Elmer's glue to put them together and finished off the flower with a cute button. I also slightly bent up the top flower petals so they stuck out more and added detail.
Now repeat the process 225 times! That's approximately 111 paired flowers of each color! I think this took me about 2 hours total to cut, glue and curl all of them.
Now comes the hard part...Lindsey made her frame for the chandelier (brilliantly if I may say so, and it's my blog so I will!).

And the frame was easy to make.... and then not to easy.

I used floral wire box wreaths because if you unbend the hooks and snap the connecting wires, you get 8 wire rings for less then 3 macrame rings! This was also much, much easier to find, since every store I went to didn't even have macrame rings.
3. Unbend the hooks on the 18" ring and remove the larger outer ring. Then remove the hooks to your 12" wreath and remove the larger outer ring and the innermost ring. Keep the remaining wreath rings for another project.
You should end up with an 18" ring, a 12" ring and a 9" ring.

Now, pull out your hangers and wire cutters.
4. Place the hanger over the 12" ring and measure about an inch over the sides and mark. Cut the hanger to size. If you use needle nose pliers you can unbend/unwind the hangers and straighten them out to get the most out of your materials. This requires a lot of arm muscle! You need two wires cut for the 12" ring and the 9" ring.

5. Once the hanger is cut to size, use the pliers to bend the wire to a tight hook over the edge so they won't move. Repeat and make an overlapping "X" shape for each ring. This steps helps to assure the rings will keep their shape.
6. Next, move on to the floral wire. Take the 18" ring and twist a small "U" shape (no bigger then your fingernail). Wrap the ends a few times around the ring to secure into place. I used the needle nose pliers to squeeze the wires together and down to hug to rings.
I placed these evenly around the ring using a ruler to keep them straight.

Rough up your rings a little with some sandpaper to prep them for painting.

7. Take your rings outside and spray paint them.

I'm not a big fan of spray paint. I sprayed my rings white and did sort of a bad job of it, but it actually works out by giving it an antique look :) Saves me the trouble of scrubbing it with sandpaper after! Once the rings are dry, bring them inside and set up an area to work in that will hold up your chandelier. I used two antique sewing machines and a yard stick. Lindsey used two step ladders and a yard stick. Really up to what works best for you :)

This is the frustrating part. Connecting the rings and making the frame.

8. I started by cutting 4 pieces of fishing line 12" to give me room to shorten (easier to cut more and take away then cutting new strings). Loop the string through one of the hooks on the medium ring and tie. Then connect the fishing line to the small loops you made on the larger ring. Repeat for all four hooks and loops, ensuring that the rings hang evenly from each other. I tried using a level to help...it didn't help lol. In the end the Medium=>Large fishing line was 8 1/2 inches when done.

9. Hang the smallest ring next, connected to the larger ring. I looped my fishing line through the small cracks in the wrapped around wire "loops". I started with 10" this time and through trial and error, the Large=>Small fishing line ended up being 6"
Again. Make sure they hang evenly. I continued to play with this until the end, it was driving me crazy to reach perfection!

*I had a "DUH" moment through my frustration. Does this shape of the frame look familiar to you? Beside the uncanny resemblance to a UFO! It looks like a lampshade! Next time I try this project, I'm going yard saleing and find a cheap lamp to strip of its fabric and (in theory) instant, stress free frame!

Yay! Now the frame is built and it's smooth sailing all the way....

10. Now is the time to place on the ribbon. Grab your ribbon and plug in your glue gun to warm up while you mark the rings. I went around the Medium ring first and marked every 3 inches *to make things easier and I'm not second guessing myself if the ribbon is spaced evenly apart. I did the same thing to the Large ring.
11. The chandelier top is made up of alternating hanging ribbons and looped ribbons that connect with the smaller ring (see below for example). Test your ribbon and see how low you want it to hang. I let mine fall just a bit for the rounded look. I then cut my hanging ribbon to stop just above the "curve" of my looped ribbon. Count the marks and cut half of the ribbon to "hanging" size and then the other half "loop" size.

My ribbon was cut 8 1/2 inches long.
12. Using your glue gun, place a little bit of glue on one end and wrap over the edge of the marks you made. Then use a little hot glue and wrap the other end around to the small ring. It really makes no difference where you place the other end on the small ring. For the hanging ribbon, just glue to the Medium (top) ring and let the other end hang!

13. For the second level of the chandelier, the ribbon will loop from the large ring to the small ring; test and see how you want it to loop. The entire bottom half of the chandelier is all loops, not hanging and loops like the tops half. I didn't want the ribbon to hang too low. About 2 inches below the upper loops looked best to me.

I cut my bottom level ribbon about 15" long. Hot glue like the upper level over the marks pre-made.
14. Now turn to your punched paper cutouts. I very lightly marked one upper level ribbon every 3 inches with a dot. Then I hot glued the cutouts to the ribbon alternating the colors. The next ribbon I just "eyed" it and alternated the colors again. By then I had a pattern and went from there.

Continue all the way around the upper level. I did the same process for the lower level.

15. Finish off the chandelier with the remaining ribbon and tie a hanger from each of the top corner hooks.In the end...Ta Da! *Sorry for the bad picture, not nearly as beautiful as Lindseys!

I am really proud of this project and even though it is a lot a work, I could see myself doing this again. It is definitely a great gift for kids,(more for mommies then for the kids) being fun and specifically hot glued to be unique just for them.

I want to make one with stars for my sons room just to hang as decoration.

I think I'll try painting the paper with a glow in the dark paint, so when the lights go out, he can still enjoy it :)

And Now.....Drum roll! Was it worth it all?

Pottery Barn's Chandelier: $80.00+shipping

Total cost of My Chandelier project: $40.00


Saturday, August 7, 2010

I want S'more Cookies!

My mom asked me to make a dessert for her co-workers BBQ tomorrow.

Me: "What should I make?"

Mom: "Make chocolate chip cookies or something."

Well, if you know me, I can't bake something just simply. I need to step it up just a bit to make it interesting (but still simple!) So I looked around at what I had on hand and what did I find?

My husbands stash of marshmallows, *ding!*

S'more Cookies!

Super easy and gooey (and impressive enough to be served to my mom's co-workers). I have a good feeling about these cookies since just posted a picture of my creation on Facebook and within an hour I had comments from tons of cookie monsters!
For the chocolate chip cookies, I never stray from the Nestle recipe on the bag. I have tried about 10-20 different recipes of people trying to improve on this classic cookie. And, for some reason this recipe is just easy, never fails, and always tastes amazing.

For this recipe you'll need:
  • chocolate chip cookies (see recipe below)
  • large (or jumbo) marshmallows (1-2 per cookie)
  • scissors
  • 8 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 tbl shortening
Nestle Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies (straight off the bag)
  • 1 c unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c semi- sweet chocolate chips
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cream butter, sugars and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually mix in dry ingredients.
  3. Add chips, mix well
  4. Drop by tablespoon onto wax lined cookie sheets, cook 9-11 mins until edges are light brown.
  5. While cookies are baking cut your marshmallows in half (or if using jumbos 3rds) crosswise.
  6. Remove partially baked cookies and immediately place marshmallows on top of hot cookies, cut side down.
  7. Return to the oven for 1-2 mins until marshmallows begin to puff up. Take cookies out of the oven and let cool 2 mins, then press down slightly to flatten marshmallows. *If you cut your marshmallows into 3rds and you have an open cut that is tacky to the touch, spray the back of a rubber spatula with Pam and use that to press the marshmallows down.
  8. Cool on cookie sheet, then move to a paper towel lined wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or microwave, stirring occasionally. Spoon a teaspoon of melted chocolate over the top of the cookie or drizzle with a squeeze bottle.
  10. Let chocolate candy set 30 mins.
  11. If there are any left over and you want to store them away, I would recommend you place wax paper between cookies because these are so gooey :)
I hope you enjoy the cookies. Fun spin on the classic s'mores and the unfailing chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe next time a smear of peanut butter somewhere?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Twine-y Accents (Decorative Balls 1)

If you're like me, I love little accents tucked around the house. I'm attracted to the symmetrical type of styles. I like multiples of things, square type furniture, things organized and in their proper place. I have A LOT of baskets lol.

Sounds a bit boring, but I also like to balance things out with spherical shapes (still symmetrical mind you :)) to soften the look of the room and even the yard.

I am totally in love with decorative balls. Glass, twine, wood, carved, wicker...you name it. But I am also not going to pay the outrageous price for some of them. So I decided to make my own. This is one of many decorative ball attempts I'm going to be making.All you need for this project is:
  • Regular white craft glue
  • Twine (Micheal's in the jewelry section)
  • foam balls of assorted shapes (Micheal's, clearance section!)
  • safety pins

Starting at the top of the ball (anywhere can really be the top, but I look for the hole), pin the end of the twine in place and circle around it with a small line of glue. Follow the line with the twine, pressing down lightly to smooth along the ball.
Slowly work all the way around the ball, circling with glue then following with the twine. I occasionally stick a pin into the twine if it looks like it won't stay down on the glue (added security is always good).

When done it should look something like this:
Wait about an hour or until the glue seems dry and the twine doesn't move at all. Remove the pins and place where you'd like. Trays, bowls, along mantles are popular.

Stick a hook eye into the side and make it an ornament.

Change the twine from plain, to glittery coiled ribbon and make something completely different if you have more vibrant decorating tastes.

Mine are on top of the DVD tower right now. It's pretending to be my mantle since I don't have a fireplace. I love the look, especially next to the contemporary globe.
I also love these balls because I'm not scare of my baby playing with them. They weigh practically nothing and can be tossed around or rolled and put right back on the shelf.

Hope you enjoy the little tutorial and make some of your own.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chai Spice Cake

Tonight I was in the mood for something warm.

I am just itching for Fall to begin with the browns, oranges and yellows. Summer is drifting away and I want to get all cozy again (even though it was 100 degrees outside today).

I decided to experiment and make a cake (yummy comfort food) and one of my favorite drinks, chai. This is what I came up with, and I have to say I probably will be making it again!
Chai Spice Cake

1 box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake
3 eggs
1/3 c of vegetable oil
1 1/4 water (ingredients as directed on the box)
2 envelopes of Bigelow Vanilla Chai
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/4 tsp of ground cloves
1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 tbl of Molasses

2 c powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 c of milk
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Bake as directed on the cake box. Cool completely and drizzle glaze over the top.

Grab a knife, fork, a plate and serve yourself.
We're not fancy here.

This cake is yummy as is, but I'm always wanting to experiment! Next time I'll try maybe a cup of pureed pumpkin or 1/4 c of lemon juice for a kick... What do you think?

Hope you like my little experiment, I sure am. It's yummy.